It’s 8:30 p.m. on a cold Friday night in January. I’m at the gym. My trainer is demonstrating a series of exercises using a Swiss Ball. I’m looking at him like he’s kinda insane and say, “yeah, I can’t do that”. After going back and forth with him, I push past my anxiety and I’m doing planks, push-ups and crunches while balancing on a Swiss Ball, then moving to a kneeling position ON the ball.
How and why am I here at this moment, instead of holding a glass of wine in front of a fire?
Rewind to mid-December, during the morning commute, one of the guys in the vanpool was telling about his hometown in Tanzania and mentioned that he’s ascended Kilimanjaro three times.
In that instance, I decided that I also wanted to climb Kilimanjaro.
Until recently, I’ve lived a pretty sedentary lifestyle. Becoming physically fit was dictated by a wake-up call from my Doctor and me wanting to live my best life. When I hit 3 on the treadmill incline, I already feel like I’m doing the most. When I first visited Denver (5280 feet), no one warned me about how the altitude would make me feel — which, for the record, was like I was having a heart attack. So how and why do I think I am going to be able to climb Kilimanjaro (Uhuru Peak 19,341 feet)?
I let the thought float to the back of my mind, where I thought it would languish with other “great” ideas I’ve had throughout the years. But a few days later, I was online and saw that Chrissy Metz (Kate, This is Us) would produce a movie for Amazon based on the book Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds by Kara Richardson Whitely. Obviously, this was a direct message to moi from the Universe. Merci beaucoup, Universe! I hear you.
I’ve downloaded and read Kara’s book, signed up to become an REI member to take hiking classes, joined Kilimanjaro Facebook groups and researched Hiking Meet Ups. I’m not the first person to kneel on a Swiss Ball or consider climbing Kilimanjaro, but both are big deals to me.
What Have I Learned So Far?
- This new endeavor has the potential to be expensive. Not going to Kilimanjaro, but with anything else, it can become a rabbit hole.
- There’s a lot of information to consider (and this is just to start):
- Which route to the top (Marangu, Machame, Rongai, Lemosho or Shira)? There are pros and cons to each choice.
- Time of year. Goal is to avoid rainy seasons and crowds. My goal is to be in much better shape to attempt this for my next milestone birthday in three years.
- There’s a lot more for me to learn.
What I’m Worried About? (as of now)
- Not there, but here at home. I’m usually a solo traveler, but, going to the Louvre alone is different than walking through forests and exploring trails.
- I had a pulmonary embolism five years ago. Lemme tell ya, it didn’t feel great and I know there are risks to climbing to at that altitude.
- Using the bathroom. Along with a zombie apocalypse and Mitch McConnell, access to a potty is among the top three things I worry about on a regular basis. And apparently human waste on the climb is something to be concerned about.
- Altitude sickness and frostbite.
- Staying consistent with my workouts and eating properly. Vanilla ice cream is my Achilles.
When my brain decided that this was something I should do, I didn’t know the first thing about hiking. But I know I want the adventure and the challenge. Moreover, I want to be among a blanket of stars. Apparently, on the night that you start the final summit climb, you can feel like you’re touching the Milky Way. Four years ago, I stayed at a bush lodge near Kruger National Park in South Africa and had that experience. I’ve never seen a more breathtaking sight. With no light pollution, it felt like the entire universe was visible.
It’s funny. I immediately thought and told my trainer that I couldn’t kneel on the Swiss Ball. But then I did it. And it felt great to have conquered something so simple. But in the moment I decided that I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, I didn’t even think that it wasn’t something I couldn’t do.
More to come. #kimfinitepossibilities
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